An Omaha gun range instructor is offering free concealed carry courses for educators to get them certified with a concealed carry permit in Nebraska.
Jason Davis served six years in the Air Force as a medic and now owns Safeguard Tactical, an outdoor training gun range.
Davis said he was sad and frustrated after the February 14 school shooting in South Florida that took the lives of 17 people.
"When it happened, I was cooking in the kitchen and my two kids were in the living room playing. After a few minutes I couldn't hear them playing so I go over and they're both fixated on the news. That's when the shooting in Florida was up on the screen," said Davis. "My daughter has tears in eyes - she's four - and she said, 'Daddy, why are they trying to hurt those kids?'"
Seeing his two young kids cry and worry about their own school safety struck a cord, said Davis.
"In that moment I thought, 'something has to be done,'" said Davis.
Davis and his uncle, who co-owns the gun range with him decided to offer two complimentary courses for teachers and college professors who would benefit from learning more about shooting guns and gun regulations.
Davis posted the idea on a Facebook page to see if there would be local interest. Within an hour, Davis said he had dozens of responses, mostly from teachers interested in his course.
The two courses are being offering April 7 and May 26. Each class will be open to 10-15 people with three instructors per course. At the end of the course, teachers will be certified with a concealed carry permit.
Davis says he will begin the course by facilitating an hour-long discussion between educators on school needs and safety.
"My intent is to create awareness. There are people in the community, whether they're parents or even kids that are pushing for more. Through grant dollars, more security in place, and possibly even giving teachers the option to carry a firearm in their school," said Davis. "I'm not saying that's the best option, but I think we should put it on the table to make it an option."
Teachers are not allowed to carry firearms in schools, but Davis would like to push for a bill that would allow teachers to have the option to carry one.
"Do I think gun are the issue? No, not necessarily. At the end of the day, if someone has that mindset that they are going to cause someone harm, they're going to do it regardless if they have an AR-15. Just like in New York in October when that guy ran over several people in Times Square and killed them," said Davis. "I don't think it's the gun. I think it's an underlying issue that we're really not addressing."
Former Senator Mark Christensen proposed a bill to allow teachers to carry concealed handguns in Nebraskan schools in 2014 but the bill failed.
Robert Miller, vice-president of the Omaha Education Association says most parents and teachers represented by OEA reject the idea of arming teachers.
"I think having the background knowledge might be helpful but giving them the ability to carry guns in the classroom is not something we'd be interested in," said Miller. "As a classroom teacher, I want to keep the students in my classroom safe but I don't think arming teachers is a way about doing that. We need to look for a solution that addresses mental health, while providing a safe and secure environment for all students, as well as taking meaningful action on the gun violence prevention."
Whether a bill ever passes or not in Nebraska to allow teachers to carry firearms in schools, Davis hopes his classes spark some dialogue on school safety.
"Regardless of your political views, whether you're Democrat or Republican, we all agree that something has to change," said Davis. "And even though I'm a gun advocate, I'm a parent first."